The Stand—mouthpiece of the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC)—recently accused the Seattle Times of supporting “greedy corporations” during the grain export dispute between United Grain Corp. and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) at the Port of Vancouver. After announcing he would remove police protection from state grain inspectors, the Times had chastised Jay Inslee for taking the side of the union by placing an effective hold on all grain exports.
Last week, the two disputing parties reached a tentative agreement the details of which have not been made public. The Times was not impressed, rightly editorializing that Inslee was “willing to imperil sales and world market share for an industry worth billions to this state and the inland West. It shouldn’t happen again.
Of course, as SHIFT reported, police protection for state grain inspectors was needed due to the hostile, volatile behavior of Longshoremen picketers. State grain inspectors—who needed to cross the union’s picket line in order to do their jobs—were subjected to death threats and United Grain Corp. management to threats of rape of their daughters.
The WSLC is not fazed by the threats of violence and does not believe others, including the Times, has any right to chastise the Longshoremen’s aggressive behavior or Inslee for lending credibility to the hostile picketers. Rationalizing the Longshoremen’s behavior, the Stand argues that United Grain Corp. locked out union workers after negotiations for a new contract fell through and thus “created a volatile picket line of justifiably angry employees.
Let’s be clear of what is happening here. Quick to place all blame on “greedy corporations” and stand up for Inslee, the WSLC actually makes the argument that the picketers were “justifiably angry employees” and therefore should receive a pass for threatening the lives of state employees and the rape of the daughters of company management.